God, please help me be less spiritual in the New Year…

Maybe I’m just a contrarian, but a friend shared a link to this piece on Facebook. His post, an the blog post itself, both say this: “Come to think of it, I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘You know, I’m just not a spiritual person.'”

Well, then, if you, like they, have never run across such a person, allow me to be the first.

I’m just not a very spiritual person.

Maybe I am playing with words, and maybe not. The original post allows that for some “spiritual” may mean taking time for personal reflection or taking up a cause larger than oneself.  We are told quickly, then, that neither of these is biblical spirituality.  While he correctly (by which I mean I agree with him) identifies biblical sprituality as the pursuit of God, he goes on to suggest only scripture reading and prayer as spritual disciplines.

Therefore, though I regularly read the bible and pray, I am less spiritual than I used to be, and I’d like to be even less spiritual in 2012 than I was in 2011.

This poor man’s understanding of the pursuit of God does not seem to include much of the kinds of things Jesus, God incarnate, did in the Gospels.  There is no mention (in the blog about spirituality) of things like feeding the poor, healing the sick, tending to the widow, the orpan, the stranger; all of which figured large in Jesus’ own life. 

I’m afraid Christians too easily fall into translating “spirituality” as some sort of private thing between the individual and God.  As if “spirituality” is all something within an individual.

On the other hand, I am more and more convinced of the truth of 1 John 4:20:

If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. (Common English Bible)

If that makes me not very spritual, so be it.

3 thoughts on “God, please help me be less spiritual in the New Year…

  1. I am truly thankful I was between sips of tea when the link opened. If I had not been, perhaps I would have spewed tea all over my computer in amusement. Donald Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life are laying right beside me, and I actually took a break from reading it to look at your blog. God’s sense of humour is like that at times I suppose.
    First off, from that article it does appear that Whitney is shrinking the spiritual disciplines into just two; namely Bible reading and prayer. However, that is not an accurate reading of his position (although I do believe an easy one to glean from that one article). In his book, he writes of those two plus, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, learning, and perseverance in the disciplines. He offers these as chapters in his book, but not as an exhaustive list. He quotes both Dallas Willard and Richard Foster who have written volumes on the spiritual disciplines (The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, and Celebration of the Disciplines respectively).
    I would not off the cuff know so much about the disciplines save for the fact that I am using the first quarter to third of 2012 to preach them at Foundation.
    The key would be, I believe, the Holy Spirit. So in fact, I would believe that the very essence of what both you and Whitney are getting at is a spiritual existence. Whitney is just defining it in a Christian sense, rather than a nebulous spirituality that could be about any spirit that exists.
    Steve, you seem to mention serving others in your blog post, and Whitney has an entire chapter on this in his book, Chapter 7. In it, he states that ‘Every Christian is expected to serve.’ He goes on to talk about serving being motivated out of obedience, gratitude, gladness, forgiveness not guilt, humility, and love. Near the conclusion he makes this statement, ‘Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship. Godliness requires a disciplined balance between the two.’
    I see exactly what you read (maybe didn’t read) in that blog piece by Whitney. I would encourage you to read more of his work though. I find him to be generally spot on when it comes to how we grow in Christ.
    At the end of the day, he would give all credit to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and essentially frames all of the spiritual disciplines as ‘means of grace.’


  2. A man sat next to me on a crowded train. he had looked me up and down and up and up and up – i was encumbered w/ a wizard staff, and exhausted from a long day of doing wizard stuff. (like a left christian put it re the Southern Baptists “I may be a heretic to you but you are welcome at my communion.” ) The guy asks what is with the staff. I say i am a wizard. he stares at me long enough that i say “What do you say to a guy who sez ‘I’m a Wizard’?” He says “I’m a Christian.”

    Turns out his family practiced Santeria, so he had a different path to Jesus. I was teasing him a little, but i was also serious. “I cried everyday for almost a year after my friend died, and sometimes i cried on the bus and not a soul offered to comfort me. But when i am in the spirit and have my staff and make-up and mr Christian offers to pray for me. I settled myself to accept any benefit of his prayer. He really had the wooga, and the atmosphere changed. I said it feels lighter. He asked if i were mocking him. For my skeptic or pagan friends the Christian’s threat of saying a prayer – look and see how much hostility you can get away with with the phrase “I’m going to pray for you.” This is where my skeptickal wanna curse the religious of all stripes (even my urban animist berserker hippy time-traveling werewolf wizard is just another flavour of religious poison.)

    I still cry a lot, but usually as able to stay home til my psych med kick in. wizard stuff mostly entailed doing videos and composing songs real quick…. so much was accomplished in about 2 months a good hour odd of footage, when we were done, i went back to crying and yet somehow i had started Kung Fu to which i am still committed.

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